Thursday, March 01, 2007

How to annoy a celebrity

  • Don't stick to the tried and true questions about their friendships with other celebrities.

  • Ask personal questions - fair game when they're here to talk about the autobiography in which they nominally lay their life bare.
  • Try and get behind the facade, to the real person.
Given that these three tactics clearly annoyed Rupert Everett last night at the Athenaeum, I can pretty much guarentee they'd work on - hmm, Madonna, for instance.

Despite assuring me before the gig that nothing was off limits, Rupert quickly grew defensive, even narky during last night's conversation when my questions focused on him personally, and what I saw as ommissions from his autobiography (i.e. the curious lack of real emotion that suffuses its pages) rather than asking the stock-standard questions that would have allowed him to present another witty bon-mot or glittering anecdote with a flourish.

It was, in short, the most difficult interview I've ever done to date, and made Barry Humphries look like a kitten in comparison. Despite the occasional awkward silence or snapped retort from Everett, however, it was also a successful interview I think, in that he revealed things about himself that no other interview had drawn out, according to his publicist after the show.

I confess that I was a little shell-shocked afterwards, however - it certainly wasn't the delightfully entertaining experience I'd anticipated. Judging from the size of the audience and the resulting book sales, though, I'd say it was a successful event.


mskp said...


i'm glad you went for interesting and probing rather than lite and breezy though.

i'd have thought he'd be happy to be taken seriously for once, instead of being wheeled out to play the male dorothy parker.

did you get good feedback from any audience members?

Anonymous said...

I was at the Athenaeum last night and, er, yes, having missed the first minute, was rather wondering what on earth you could have done to annoy him so much? He was certainly very warm and responsive with the audience questions. (Some of which were good and some just downright...well you know)

I'm not convinced that Rupert was looking for the easy option but as I say, I did miss the first minutes and you certainly deserve ten out of ten for soldiering on in very-difficult-downright-cringe-making circumstances.

Personally, I would have fled from the stage in tears and buried myself in a vodka martini or six!

On Stage And Walls said...

The book has been available for nearly 12 months (I read about the middle of last year) and has some fairly bad press (even the audio book version is badly cut and sounds like a toffy English snob cold reading a book for the print handicapped). Anyone who has read "The Hairdressers of St Tropez"will recognize the Oscar Wildesque habit of over-wittily describing people, places, events as pretty much all Rupert is up to. My guess is he was talked into one last publicity tour before his publicist tries one last time to get him another (even uncredited) movie cameo.

richardwatts said...

Thanks, Faith - by the time of the 'jaundiced opinion' retort I was almost ready to flee the stage and drown my sorrows! As to how warm Rupert was with the audience - that's acting for you, I guess - the ability to switch your charisma on or off at the drop of a hat!

KP - yes, a couple of complete strangers congratulated me on "what must have been a very difficult job", once in the foyer afterwards, and once on the street, which was gratifying.

On top of that, the readings staff were all very positive, as were a couple of the texts I received from friends afterwards; the most succinct of which was 'well done - he was a cunt'.

To be fair to Rupert, though, he probably thought I was a cunt, too. LOL

buff said...

I really wish I was there for that interview. You must have been fantastic.

Rupert is used to easy interviews. I caught him on "The View" tv show in the states two months ago, and he had everyone eating out of the palm of his hand. He does have that way.

Glad you overcame that, and dismissed the pouting remarks and got to the meat of his career.

Big hairy muscle hugs of thanks.

rickjacobs said...

I wonder if it's wrong to say that he should try a bit harder - his book is a big flop here in the UK and he really could use all the publicity he could get if he wants to sell more.

I would love to see a transcript of that interview - I can't imagine that you did anything to piss him off. Maybe he's just a dick.

richardwatts said...

Thanks, Buff.

And hi Rick! *hug* Unfortunately I didn't manage to record the interview, so I can't provide a transcript, or even an abridged version of the conversation as an article for my own paper, dammit!

Steven said...

I wish I could have been there. Sounds like an interesting interview. I saw a pre-recorded interview with him on UK TV yesterday; I like him. I have not read the book (but I want to). Is it intended to be an in-depth biography or just a light-hearted, tongue-in-cheek collection of stories?

How come you can't write anything about it for MCV? I’d be interested in reading that too.